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article imageOp-Ed: First U.S. Judge Charged With Fed Sex Crimes Sentenced to Prison

By Del Patterson     May 15, 2009 in Crime
The amount of punishment meted out to a U.S. Federal judge for violation of sex crimes was in a word...underwhelming.
U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent of Galveston, Texas stared at his shoes while his accusers recounted years of abuse at his Galveston courthouse.
So fearful of him that they looked for places to hide in the building. We can assume that the poor judge didn't have the concept sexual harassment etched in his brain and apparently the code of law on sexual misconduct didn't register with him either.
He did man-up. Whew! He apologized to his family and to his wife, but not once did he offer anything of remorse to his two accusers.
In Feb. of 2009, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for lying to a federal judicial committee. He admitted to having non-consensual sexual contact with his secretary and case manager.
The day before his trial was set to begin the mighty judge known for his hyperbole, would man-up yet one more time. He would plead guilty to all charges and retire from the bench. The word retire is all important in this the first case involving a sitting federal judge accused of violating federal sex laws.
So what was the so-very-soft punishment? Presiding District Judge Roger Venson handed him a 33 month sentence for obstruction of justice. Geez! The maximum sentence under federal law is 20 years. Why not just bring out the rubber paddle and spank him in the town square and let him go home and draw his $169,500 yearly salary for the rest of his life? But if you think the wrist slapping ended there, you would be surprised to learn that Judge Venson couldn't contain himself, he was compelled to issue an additional $1000 fine and $6550 in restitution to his accusers.? Praise be to Lady Liberty and the two women, justice prevailed because you and I could quite possibly be punished in this matter as well.
Federal statutes say that a federal judge may retire at age 65 with his/her full salary. If a judge resigns he/she gets nothing. Judge Kent is only 59. He does not qualify for retirement. He has, however, filed for retirement due to a total disability that prevents him from performing his duties. Will Chief Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Court grant him such a certification? Not enough of us send her a note expressing our dismay over such a miscarriage of justice; not if enough of us say that something's rotten in the State of Texas.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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